I’m sure every parent goes through at least several agonising dinner times, where your toddler pushes their food around with their fork, throws it, spits it out, basically anything that avoids swallowing the bloody food you spent all afternoon preparing.
Fortunately, my children are generally good eaters. Lil Princess eats pretty much anything and at any time, despite teething, sick bugs and a tongue operation.
Lil Man has always tried new things and loves his fruit and veg. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our fair share of dinner table battles.
From a very early age he had a severe cow’s milk allergy which resulted in a dramatic weight loss and as a new mum, I was frantic.
Ever since, I have had a bit of a complex about his weight and ensuring he has enough food in his tiny tummy. I’ve no doubt that my shadowing, coaxing and bribing to eat did more harm than good. But I’ve had a few eureka moments lately, so I thought I would share them. That’s not to say these will work for every child or even work every time with mine, but its worth a shot eh?
Cut into an oblong shape and dip in egg and breadcrumbs and hey presto…it looks like a fishfinger or chicken nugget (but is it)? You could do this with anything to hide some goodness. I tried with fresh salmon once and another time with avocado slices. Both went down well.
I am going to own up and admit, I have yet to try this. However, I have seen so many posts on instagram or pinterest where you can colour their food to make it far more interesting. If you use natural food colourings then there can be no harm. But if that’s not your bag, then try mixing up a little colour on their plate just with a variety of fruit and veg; rainbow style. I have shamefully only just discovered purple broccoli. Wow!
Cut a sandwich or fish cake into a star and it makes it a million times more interesting. It doesn’t mean they will finish the damn thing, but normally grabs their attention long enough for a couple of nibbles. And when you’re desperate, a couple of bites is something.
Alternatively, have some fun with a spiraliser. Just manipulating the form a vegetable so that its more fun and less…well, like a vegetable may excite them about their food more.
This is great for weaning but why stop there? If the only way to get some veg down their throats is to blend up peppers, tomatoes and spinach in a bolognese sauce, then go for it. Invest in a decent food processor instead of a hand blender, then you can cook up batches of the stuff and freeze it (if they enjoy it).
Make something resemble a cake and you can get anyone to eat it. I have baked various cakes, bread and muffins that can be packed with goodness or at least free from refined sugars. It feels like a treat (for you too) but they will be oblivious of the actual content.
And if all else fails, just let them go hungry. This sounds cruel and maybe a little crazy. But I have only come to this conclusion that sometimes they just aren’t hungry or that overfussiness can only be overcome by hunger. In other words, if they get hungry enough they will eat anything. I also came to the conclusion that sometimes their refusal to eat is for a bit of drama and as soon as the negative attention stops they feel defeated and eat.
I really hope I have given some inspiration or at least reassure you that you are not the only one. Good luck!